Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa have brought the subject of Latin American populism once again to the fore of scholarly and policy debate in the region. Latin American Populism in the Twenty-first Century explains the emergence of today’s radical populism and places it in historical context, identifying continuities as well as differences from both the classical populism of the 1930s and 1940s and the neo-populism of the 1990s.

Leading Latin American, U.S., and European authors explore the institutional and socioeconomic contexts that give rise to populism and show how disputes over its meaning are closely intertwined with debates over the meaning of democracy. By analyzing the discourse and policies of populist leaders and reviewing their impact in particular countries, these contributors provide a deeper understanding of populism’s democratizing promise as well as the authoritarian tendencies that threaten the foundation of liberal democracy.

Carlos de la Torre is the director of international studies and a professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He is the author of Populist Seduction in Latin America. Cynthia J. Arnson is the director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center. She is the editor of In the Wake of War: Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict in Latin America (2012).


1. Introduction: The Evolution of Latin American Populism and the Debates Over Its Meaning 
Carlos de la Torre and Cynthia J. Arnson

2. Parties and Populism in Latin America
Kenneth M. Roberts

3. Populism in Democratic Times: Populism, Representative Democracy, and the Debate on Democratic Deepening
Enrique Peruzzotti

4. What Do We Mean When We Talk About Populism?
Francisco Panizza

5. Populism and Social Policy in Latin America
Kurt Weyland

6. From the Peróns to the Kirchners: “Populism” in Argentine Politics
Hector E. Schamis

7. Populism, Neopopulism, and the Left in Brazil: From Getúlio to Lula 
Leslie Bethell

8. Populism in Peru: From APRA to Ollanta Humala 
Cynthia McClintock

9. Populism, Rentierism, and Socialism in the Twenty-First Century: The Case of Venezuela 
Margarita López Maya and Alexandra Panzarelli

10. From the MNR to the MAS: Populism, Parties, the State, and Social Movements in Bolivia since 1952 
John Crabtree

11. Rafael Correa and His Plebiscitary Citizens’ Revolution
César Montúfar

12. Politicizing Insecurity: Uribe’s Instrumental Use of Populism
Ana María Bejarano

13. Conclusion: The Meaning and Future of Latin American Populism 
Cynthia J. Arnson and Carlos de la Torre


“If Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century is not the last word on the subject, that is due to the open-ended and ongoing nature of current transformations in the region. The collection is an excellent guide to these transformations, and will be an invaluable benchmark against which to measure future trends.”—Maxwell A. Cameron, Journal of Latin American Studies

“This is a solid book, well organized and with consistently high quality throughout the chapters. In the concluding section, the editors advance new pertinent avenues of research for the study of populism in Latin America.”—José Pedro Zúquete, Latin American Politics and Society

“Overall, de la Torre and Arnson’s new book represents a solid contribution to the study of Latin American politics, and is useful for policymakers, researchers, and students of the region.”—Grant Burrier, Latin American Politics and Society

“De la Torre and Arnson bring together an outstanding cast of contributors to examine the causes of populism and its various—and double-edged—consequences for democracy. More than any other book on the subject, Latin American Populism in the Twenty-first Century spans historical eras, from the ‘classical’ populism of the 1930s and 1940s, to ‘neoliberal’ populism of the 1990s, to the more radical forms of populism that emerged in the contemporary era. For this reason, it is likely to be of enduring value for students of Latin American politics.”—Steven Levitsky, Harvard University

Latin American Populism in the Twenty-first Century does a remarkable job in providing a fresh perspective on one of the region’s most recurrent and controversial political phenomena. Its breadth of theory and empirical case studies mean that it will be a must-read not only for researchers interested in populism, but also for anyone interested in the politics of the poor and marginalized more generally.”—Philip Oxhorn, McGill University